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Cyber Risks & Liabilities: Basic Loss Control Techniques

Protecting your business from cyber-risks can be an overwhelming venture. A new day means more viruses are being discovered, more spam is being delivered to your inbox and yet another well-known company is the victim of a data breach.

The world will never be free of cyber-risks, but there are many loss control techniques you can implement to help protect your business from exposures.

  1. Install a firewall for your network.
    • Operating systems often come with pre-installed firewalls, but they are generally designed to protect just one computer. Examine the firewall’s options and select the best configuration to keep the computer safe.
    • If your business has a network of five or more computers, consider buying a network firewall. They can be pricey but network firewalls provide a fine level of cover for an entire network.
  2. Install anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware software.
    • This loss control technique is the easiest and most effective way to increase security at your business. Make sure to install the software on each computer in your network—computers that don’t include these types of software are much more likely to be exposed and can possibly spread malware to other computers in the network.
    • There are a host of viable options for each type of software, ranging in price from free to an annual subscription. Be sure to keep the software as up-to-date as possible.
  3. Encrypt data.
    • No firewall is perfect. If a hacker manages to get through your firewall and into your network, your data could be a sitting duck. Encryption will make the data unreadable to a hacker.
    • Consider using an encryption program to keep computer drives, files and even email messages safe from hackers.
  4. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
    • A VPN allows employees to connect to your company’s network remotely. VPNs eliminate the need for a remote-access server, saving companies lots of money in remote server costs.
    • In addition to these savings, VPNs also provide a high level of security by using advanced encryption and authentication protocols that protect sensitive data from unauthorised access.
    • If your company has salespeople in the field or employs workers who work from home or away from the office, a VPN is an effective way to minimise cyber-risks.
  5. Implement an employee password policy.
    • One of the most overlooked ways to keep your business safe is instituting a password policy. Essentially, a password policy should force employees to change work-related passwords every 90 days. The policy should encourage the creation of easy-to-remember, hard-to-guess passwords that include letters, numbers and special characters.
      • For example, an easy-to-remember, hard-to-guess password could be ‘M1dwbo2510’. (My first daughter was born on 25 October.)
    • Passwords that contain words from the dictionary or contain sensible combinations (abc123, qwerty, etc) should never be allowed. Let employees know that they should not write passwords down and leave them in a desk or out in the open.
      • If they are having trouble remembering passwords, there are password-keeping programs available for download.
  6. Back up data regularly.
    • Important data should be backed up daily and in multiple locations, one being off-site. In addition to being safe from cyber-risks, off-site data would not be exposed from physical attacks, like a fire or flood.
    • Restrict access to backed up data. The public should never have access to it. If the data is tangible, keep it in locked filing cabinets in a locked room, and only issue keys to those who absolutely need them.
  7. Develop a business continuity plan.
    • If the worst should happen and your company suffers a data breach or similar attack, you should have a business continuity plan in place. A business continuity plan helps:
      • Facilitate timely recovery of core business functions
      • Protect the well-being of employees, their families and your customers
      • Minimise loss of revenue/customers
      • Maintain public image and reputation
      • Minimise loss of data
      • Minimise the critical decisions to be made in a time of crisis
    • The plan should identify potential cyber-risks, along with the recovery team at your company assigned to protect personnel and property in the event of an attack.
    • The recovery team should conduct a damage assessment of the attack and guide the company towards resuming operations.

We Are Your Loss Control Expert

Keeping your data safe from cyber-risks requires constant attention to ensure an attack never happens. Sirelark Risk Services has the resources and know-how to help you identify potential risks and keep your business running smoothly in the event of an attack.

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This Cyber Risks & Liabilities document is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact a legal or insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2013 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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